Both doctors and lawyers have used the phrase “ticking time bomb” to describe mesothelioma. Several decades can pass between the time a patient is exposed to asbestos fibers and the time mesothelioma symptoms first appear.
In fact, because of mesothelioma’s lag time, known as the latency period, some patients have difficulty pinpointing when and where they were exposed to asbestos, because so many years have passed. All too often, decades later, the deadly byproduct of asbestos exposure catches up in a hurry.
It’s a cruel reality for many: Effectively dormant for decades, mesothelioma cancer kills most of its victims within two years once symptoms begin appear.
Sadly, in far too many cases, by the time the signs linked to this highly aggressive form of cancer become obvious, patients are in the latter stages of the fast-moving disease, limiting both the treatment options and potential longevity. Yet, in many instances, the earlier mesothelioma is diagnosed, the better the odds that a patient will live years — not just a few months — after treatment begins.
Since timing is crucial both to longevity and the hope of recovering compensation from companies responsible for exposing victims to asbestos in the first place, quickly recognizing and reacting to the symptoms of mesothelioma can help the chances of extending a patient’s life. To that end, medical experts warn that anyone who already is aware of asbestos exposure in their past should receive regular checkups to monitor any early signs of mesothelioma, which often are hard for patients themselves to detect.
Weitz & Luxenberg has represented 33,000 asbestos victims in lawsuits cases over the years, helping to recover billions in settlements and jury awards for its clients.*
Understanding how to recognize mesothelioma symptoms can not only extend a patient’s life, but help to recover financial compensation from the asbestos companies that created the medical circumstance in the first place.
While there are four types of mesothelioma, the pleural and peritoneal forms are by far the most common, accounting for a combined 90% of the estimated 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed annually in the United States.
Pleural Mesothelioma Symptoms
Of the four mesothelioma classifications, the pleural form is the most prevalent, accounting for approximately 75% of annual cases in the U.S. Pleural mesothelioma attacks the linings of the lungs, often leaving a thick layer of tumor surrounding the lung tissue, and gradually reducing a patient’s ability to breathe.
As a result, victims frequently complain of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest, back, and flank pain and tightness
- Persistent cough
- Coughing up blood
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
Similar to pleural mesothelioma, the peritoneal type also attacks a crucial lining of the body cavity, located in the abdominal area. As a result, most of the symptoms are often associated with the digestive tract.
Peritoneal mesothelioma constitutes roughly 15% of the cases diagnosed annually in the U.S. and patients generally complain about these conditions:
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Formation of lumps in the belly area
- Weight loss
- Gastric disturbances, such as diarrhea and constipation
Pericardial Mesothelioma Symptoms
The pericardium is a sack that surrounds the heart muscle, and while pericardial mesothelioma is rare, asbestos can sometimes cause tumors to form in that crucial lining, too.
Because the tumor can constrict the heart and lessen blood flow throughout the body, patients frequently complain about these conditions:
- Chest pain
- Pressure in the chest cavity
- Murmurs or an irregular heartbeat
- Persistent cough and swelling of the face and arms
Testicular Mesothelioma Symptoms
The rarest of the four mesothelioma forms, this particular cancer type attacks the lining of the testes, causing lumps and discomfort in the genital area.
Victims most frequently complain of swelling, pain, sensitivity, and irritation in the scrotum area. Those aware of asbestos exposure in the past should take note of unusual masses forming in the testicles and consult a doctor as quickly as possible.
Mesothelioma Symptoms in Other Parts of the Body
As with many forms of cancer, as the disease takes hold, mesothelioma can aggressively spread to other parts of the body, a process called metastasis, which usually means the patient is entering the advanced stages of the disease.
Don’t Wait to Seek Expert Advice
Both medically and legally, time is the essential component for any victim of asbestos exposure who has begun feeling symptoms associated with mesothelioma. Delays in seeking medical treatment can not only shorten a patient’s life expectancy, but could potentially impact a family’s chances of recovering compensation and holding the responsible asbestos companies accountable for the damage they’ve done. Statutes of limitation, the legal window in which victims can file a lawsuit, vary significantly from state to state, as well.
Given the burden of staggering medical bills and mesothelioma’s frightening mortality rate, the path for victims and their families is paramount: Don’t wait to seek expert treatment and legal advice.
Weitz & Luxenberg has been prosecuting mesothelioma cases for 30 years. For a free, confidential consultation, call (877) 516-9192.
* While our past record doesn’t guarantee future success, it is something you may want to consider when evaluating our experience.